Category

NEWS ENGLISH

Not much longer now!

Copyright: MarkKellyPhotography.ca

The training course is over and almost all athletes are here now. Unfortunately, Luc Atgé from France who had signed up for the 300 miles, will not be with us. He could not come because of Covid-19. He is disappointed of course but the good new is that Luc is feeling better already and now is looking forward to the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra in March and coming back to the Yukon in 2023.

We also had two more volunteers from the UK who could not make it because of the pandemic. Just as is the case with Luc, we hope to welcome them and all others in the Yukon next winter.

While the temperatures during the training course were almost mild, it cooled down quite a bit last night and we all woke up to about – 36 degrees in downtown Whitehorse. Now, at 00:23 AM on February 2nd there is a quite a bit of snow coming down and the wind is blowing hard. The forecast for the race keeps changing. It looks like it could go down to – 30 in some parts of the trail and we will likely get more snow. That’s good news and bad news. These temperatures are okay for the race but a lot of fresh snow and wind make it very tough to keep up a good speed.

I did some early gear checks yesterday morning and other athletes used the  night before for a bit of stove lighting and other training in the Gold Rush Inn parking lot. It was a good reminder that at – 35 things start to get tough.

All rental gear is distributed, most SPOTs (satellite trackers) have been handed out and some more updates to athletes were sent out by email.

Our own crew and the Canadian Rangers have been very busy setting up the remote checkpoints and breaking and marking trails. Due to the record snowfalls the Yukon has had, on rivers and lakes there is an enormous amount of overflow. The trails are safe, especially in the colder temperatures. But it is very dangerous to step off the trail. And the workload to get the trail was massive. That’s why I want to send a BIG thank you to all who have been involved.

The volunteer crew, currently based in Whitehorse, has been busy, too. Julie Pritchard, Callum Jolliffe and Cameron McLeod have been dealing with paperwork, preparing material for the race and helping the athletes to get all they need. Thank you Diane Patrick for all the prep work back home! Now we are just waiting for Anya Svet and our crew will be complete.

It’s also great that we have some new crew members and together we are all excited to soon head North!

Those of you who want to follow us have got several options:

  1. There will be very frequent news in our facebook group.
  2. We will also try to put as many photos up on our Instagram page and of course in the gallery here on this website.
  3. Another source for news is of course this page on our website.
  4. The SPOT tracking page – powered by Trackleaders.com – is embedded on our landing page.
  5. Last but not least, there is a detailed results table which we will try to update as often as possible.

Some impression from the training course – copyright MarkKellyPhotography.ca:

News update

MYAU 2022 gear check

The gear check will take place February 2nd at the Best Western Gold Rush Inn, Room: Parlour Room

Please bring

  • your Sleeping System (sleeping mat, sleeping bag, liner and tent or bivvy bag)
  • Expedition Down Jacket
  • Stove – set up and ready to light

We first check your sleeping system and expedition down jacket. Then
you are shown where to go outside to light your stove (no using or trouble shooting with your stoves inside, please).

Schedule (by bib number):

11:30 103
11:40 107
11:50 108
12:00 301
12:10 302
12:20 304
12:30 305
12:40 306
12:50 307
13:00 308
13:10 309
13:20 310
13:25 311
13:30 312
13:40 313
13:50 314

Please be on time, wear a mask and keep the required distance!

All bib numbers not listed above have their gear checked as part of the training course.

Race briefing

An invitation to the online race briefing was sent out to all athletes via email. Please let me know if you did not get it.

Race start

We will have a staggered start. That way it will be easier to keep the required distance and we won’t get near the maximum of 50 people. At this moment the plan is to start the marathon at 10:30. The 100 miles will follow at 10:40 and the 300 miles at 10:50.

Unfortunately, I do have to tell locals who would like to see the athletes leave, that this time it’s better if you don’t join us at Shipyard’s Park. If you do want to come anyway, please keep a good distance. Also, please note that visitors will not be able to access the Shipyard’s Park building to warm up. The same goes for athletes. So, please time your arrival to the start line in a way that you won’t have to stand outside for too long – certainly not if it’s a very cold morning.

Transport of the sleds to the start line will be provided (loading at the Gold Rush Inn). More details on that in the race briefing.

Race tracking

Once again, Trackleaders.com will provide the tracking service for the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra. The link on our website that leads to the tracking map will soon be updated. Beware, dot watching is addictive 😉

For the athletes I hope to soon get a link that will allow you upload certain information about yourself (including a photo), that will then be visible when people click on your dot. It is very important that all athletes use this link! This also goes for participants who will bring their own SPOT.

News update

Over the last few months a lot of communication with the athletes participating in the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2022 was done by email. I will now switch to updates here on the website. That way also people who are not in the race can follow latest developments and the topics we cover.

Travel to the Yukon

I landed in Whitehorse late last night. But I guess I should start at the beginning. At Munich Airport, Lufthansa had a surprise for me in store. I do travel with quite a bit of luggage but by the terms Lufthansa state on their website I should even gotten away with a EUR 90 charge for extra luggage. It ended up being EUR 250. I would have loved to get that information before but after 2 hours of trying their hotline last week and failing to find where I can book extra luggage online, I had given up and told myself I will deal with it at the airport. Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that surprises with luggage can always happen.

Another thing that became obvious in Munich is that check-in can be slow. All it takes is some less experienced staff and you spend about 30 minutes at the counter. They needed to check all Covid-19 related paperwork and deal with some questions I had. The people behind me who were late for their flights were not amused … So, I recommend being at the airport earlier than you normally would.

Upon arrival in Vancouver, Lufthansa told the passengers that any luggage for connecting flights will go straight to the final destination. No picking up luggage and bringing it through customs. I have no idea if this is now true for all countries/flights/airlines? I am sure you will also be told when you get to Vancouver or Toronto.

They don’t make you fill in the paper forms anymore that you used to hand in with the border control agent. I thought maybe they use the ArriveCan App for that. But I was wrong. Upon arrival you get to an area with touch-screen terminals and you need to answer travel information there and get a printed receipt – that you then hand in at border control.

The gentleman who controlled me informed me that I am selected for a random Covid-19 test. I had not pre-registered because I had no Canadian phone number. When then registering at the counter of the test center, I needed to give the full Canadian (hotel) address, my email and also a Canadian phone number. I ended up giving them the phone number of the hotel I am staying at. In hindsight, I could have done this before when pre-registering and used this number. It did not delay my testing by too much. I think maybe 5 to 10 minutes. The test was then done and I was told I can continue to the Yukon – no questions or discussions about my ArriveCan App, quarantine plan, etc. You get some information sheets that confirm what we all already know, i.e. once in Whitehorse, you need to quarantine until you receive the test result. And I will get back to that later. Overall, I would say the test procedure from start of conversation to end took about 20 to 30 minutes. I have no idea if they would always only get the right amount of random tests or if there is potential for a bottle neck?

Once in Whitehorse, another little surprise. At the moment, there are no hotel shuttles. All my luggage arrived and then I went outside where quite a few other travellers were waiting for taxis. You normally don’t have to call a taxi. They will keep coming for as long as there are people waiting. Since I was pretty much last in line, it took a while …

Your stay at the Best Western Gold Rush Inn

Check-in at the Gold Rush Inn was quick and the staff on duty was helpful and very friendly. Please keep in mind that you wear your mask in the hotel and that you are not to leave your room until you get a negative test result – hopefully the next day. Until you get the test result you need to order food to your room. I will confirm with front desk if they can set up some kind of room service.

Delayed test results

Now we get to the tricky part. When you get tested in Vancouver (not sure if it’s the same in Toronto), you get informed that it takes 1 to 3 days to get your test results. If you do not have your test results after 2 days, you can call a phone number. However, if they are slow because there are too many people to test and not enough staff, a call may not have too much impact/speed things up.

Therefore, we are faced with a scenario where some of you are stuck in quarantine for up to 3 days. It may totally mess up your pre-race schedule. That’s why I want to make the promise to you that we will find ways to deal with it. We are in this together now and if you really are stuck for 3 days, you will still get your MYAU experience. Whatever it is, we will figure out a solution. And don’t get too worried about it because A) the 3 days are likely just a worst case scenario they have to communicate and B) if it happens, we can’t change it anyway.

The marathon

For the marathon there are not too many changes. Just some marathon-specific reminders:

  • You need to join us during the online briefing February 2nd at 9 AM. Invitation email with a link (zoom meeting) will follow. We will start with the marathon details and then you can leave the meeting early. If you absolutely can’t make the briefing, I will post a written version of it here in the news.
  • There is no gear check for marathoners. You need to have all the gear you need to cope with the temparature range of the day. And depending on the day’s weather and your speed, this range could be anything from + 5 degrees Celsius to – 45 degrees Celsius. Also, you definitely should take a headlamp with you. Just in case.
  • As always there is minimal support, i.e. we have a roughly half-way point at Takhini Bridge with hot water and we have the finish line at Muktuk. At Muktuk you can have a meal and something hot to drink.
  • If you have friend and family following you that day, they can see you at Takhini Bridge – but they can’t give you any food or drink. Also, I am not sure what the snow situation is like driving down to the river. I hope it will be fully ploughed and there won’t be a problem, but I can’t promise it.
  • All local runners who have family or friends picking them up at Muktuk, please let me know. Then I won’t book a transfer.
  • Marathoners can give us a drop bag for their finish line. Like any drop bag it needs to clearly marked with a name, race number and „Marathon“ or „Muktuk“. Hand in of the drop bags at the Best Western Gold Rush Inn (Town Hall) from February 2nd from 17:00 until 22:00.
  • IMPORTANT: Marathoners initially run past the Muktuk checkpoint. You do not enter the Muktuk property when you get there. You run past it until you get to a turn-around some km ahead. We have a snowmobile guide parked at that point. When you get to where this guide is, you turn around and then, once back at the Muktuk property, you leave the Takhini River.
  • If you have friends and family come pick you up at Muktuk, please tell them:
    • To drive carefully once they are on the driveway to the Muktuk Lodge (there could be dog teams crossing!).
    • The driveway around the dogyard needs to remain clear, i.e. they must not block it with parked cars.
    • If they want to say „hi“ to the dogs, they must approach Muktuk staff first.
    • Unfortunately, they can’t go into the lodge to warm up – they must use their vehicles for that.
    • When they leave the car and interact, they should keep their (2 m) distance and wear masks.

Some reminders to all athletes

  • If you have not done so already, remember to get your eTA (electronic travel authorisation) for Canada.
  • Remember to download and use the ArriveCan App.
  • Follow the pre-travel test requirements.
  • Make print-outs of all your travel related paperwork (e.g. vaccination certificates, pre-travel test result – all these documents should be in English).
  • Don’t forget to do you BICO and email your pdf-certificate to me.
  • Don’t forget to take the originals of all your Application & Waiver forms with you (unless you already sent it to me via postal service).
  • Don’t forget to take the copies of your filled-in Application & Waiver forms with you.
  • Don’t forget to bring your proof of insurance with you (e.g. copy of the certificate). Please do not hand in the full set of terms and make sure whatever insurance you have it does not exclude an event like the MYAU.
  • Please make sure you take with you whatever technology you need to be able to attend a zoom online meeting.
  • Please make sure you have enough masks with you (and I am not talking about balaclavas ;-).
  • Most important of all, please take some patience with you and a whole lot of humour.

Distribution of rental gear

It’s my goal to have all rental gear distributed to the athlete’s rooms. I want the gear to be there upon your arrival – provided hotel management are okay with that.

Gear test

All athletes who do the training course do not have to come to a separate gear test. All athletes who are not in the training course, I will soon communicate the schedule for it.

Race start

We still plan on having our start at Shipyard’s Park. There will be transport offered to bring the pulks to the start line. Athletes then either need to walk (it’s about 15 to 20 minutes) or take a taxi.

In order not have an issue with the max. 50 people limit we may implement a start in intervals. Details will follow.

It’s hard for me to have to say it but I would ask any locals not to come to the start line this year. I am not sure how authorities would „count“ you. Even if you keep a certain distance I imagine visitors may be counted a spart of the overall 50 person limit. Also, if it’s very cold we can’t give you access to the Shipyard’s Park building. It’s for athletes and crew only. BUT even athletes likely can only access the building to use the washroom.

Weather and trail update

As these last few weeks have confirmed, regarding the weather, anything is possible. From +5 degrees Celsius during the daytime to -55 degrees Celsius at night. It’s too early to make prediction right now. Yes, closer to race time we will have a better idea. However, even if at the start line it’s fairly warm, it can drop again within a day or two. So, as always, basically be prepared for the worst/coldest.

Since the weather changes a lot, trail conditions change a lot, too. Thanks to Gary Rusnak at the moment we can say there is a trail from Whitehorse to Muktuk. It keeps being snowed in but it’s there. More updates will follow.

Another thing that is certain, is that there is going to be significant overflow on lakes and rivers. That means DO NOT STEP OFF THE TRAIL when you are moving on lakes and rivers. If the trail is completely blown in and you can’t follow it, it’s better to wait until a snowmobile drove over it again.

So much for today. Please keep checking back as there may be some news pretty much every day now.

Good news and pretty good news

Before anything else, I want to wish all of you participting in and following the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2022 a HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

As you can imagine the latest developments because of the Omicron variant are also affecting our race. The athletes currently on the race roster were informed in detail by email update on December 29th. With this post I want fill in all of you about what is going on.

In general, it’s been a difficult few weeks. However, looking at the “bright side of life”, I prefer to say that we have good news and pretty good news. Long story short, the marathon and 100 mile race will go ahead as planned. For the 300 milers we will do an out-and-back of 150 miles each way. The athletes signed up for this distance will go beyond Braeburn for about 50 miles, turning around on Mandana Lake. Then they will come back to Whitehorse. Because of this change but also because of the continuing issues for travelling in times of Covid-19, some athletes decided to cancel. But we still have enough participants on the race roster to justify putting the MYAU 2022 on.

With the change to the 300 mile distance we are following the recommendation of the Yukon’s acting Chief Medical Officer „… that travel between communities, and from communities to Whitehorse, be avoided until further notice“. In addition, it is my understanding that First Nations in Carmacks and Pelly Crossing would rather not get any visitors at the moment.

Regarding travelling into Canada, I am still waiting for an answer on what authorities consider an acceptable quarantine location in Whitehorse for an international tourist. Right now this is an essential question in order to avoid headaches when travelling into Canada. Once I have the answer all MYAU athletes will be informed again by email.

Also, to all athletes who will join us in February, please remember to download and use the new ArriveCAN app. Furthermore, and that has nothing to do with Covid-19, international travellers need an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization).

Other impacts the current rules may have on the MYAU 2022:

  • We may not be able to have the race briefing as we normally would – due to restrictions on the maximum number of people allowed in a venue that takes place inside. If this is the case I will offer a briefing that takes place online, we will record it and make it downloadable. I will also provide a written version of it.
  • We may not be able to have our pre-race dinner on February 2nd – same restrictions as above.
  • Athletes will likely have to wear a mask when inside or in close contact with the crew.
  • There may be restrictions on how many people are allowed to sleep inside at a checkpoint.
  • It may influence what we provide for meals and where we provide meals.

There will likely be other things we still need to deal with.

IMPORTANT: All athletes who have not received the latest email updates, please contact me asap.

Kahtoola sponsors MYAU 2022

There are more dangers to the winter than hypothermia and frostbite. It’s an obvious one! Yes, I am talking about slippery surfaces due to ice or snow. Right when I started organising the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, almost 20 years ago, I knew it’s something I should look into. I quickly came across Kahtoola, a US-based company that was started by climber Danny Giovale in 1996. He had slipped on snow while descending from a mountain in the Italian Dolomites. Afterwards, he searched for a packable traction device for flexible footwear that could be used in more versatile situations than a bulky, heavy mountaineering crampon. Back then, Danny did not find anything that convinced him and invented the first KTS Hiking Crampon for flexible boots. The rest is history.

Since then Kahtoola has invented their famous MICROspikes which have helped make mountain adventures a lot safer. This combination of a chain and spikes is light, compact and super easy to use on any running or hiking shoe, and makes them well suited for steep, challenging snow and ice.

Another great product for winter running are the Kahtoola EXOspikes. They excel on a wide variety of terrain and surfaces because of the innovative profile and spike solution they feature. Plus the EXOspikes are incredibly abrasion-resistant and you can leave them on if your run or hike takes you over areas with no snow or ice cover. From fall to spring, when there is a chance of coming onto slippery trails in the mountains where I live, I have got my EXOspikes with me.

For the MYAU you can use either. The MICROspikes will give you a bit more grip on the steep up- and downhills. If your plan is to mainly use your spikes for those situations and otherwise you are confident you will be fine without them, that’s the product you should go for. If you feel more comfortable with traction also in less steep terrain and you want to wear them as a precaution a lot of the time, then I recommend the EXOspikes. They will feel more natural when the surface is hard.

For more information about Kahtoola please check out their website kahtoola.com.

Cumulus Excuistic 1500 – the official MYAU sleeping bag

At any multi-day winter adventure the sleeping bag is a key piece of equipment. It will determine if you have a great night’s sleep or if you suffer. In really tough conditions it can even make the difference between life and death. So, when it comes to your choice of sleeping bag you do not want to compromise. At the same time, for most adventures weight and space are important factors. You want that durability and warmth but you also want to save as much weight and space as possible. Cumulus has got sleeping bags that have these traits. That is why I am super happy to announce that the Polish company Cumulus is now our official partner for sleeping bags.

Every product that is designed at Cumulus has to be as light as possible. They use advanced technical solutions, world-class fabrics and constantly improve their manufacturing techniques to achieve this goal. Cumulus was founded in 1989 by Zdzisław Wylężek who knew about the superb qualities of Polish down. From the beginning, Cumulus has closely cooperated with PERTEX® who also are a main sponsor of the MYAU. Combining their lightweight fabrics with Polish down, Cumulus started the production of quality sleeping bags. By now they are an internationally recognized brand used by outdoor professionals all over the world. They completely control the production, which is fully based in Poland and meet highest ethical standards.

The official MYAU sleeping bag is the Excuistic 1500. Cumulus have created the Excuistic series with polar and winter alpine expeditions in mind. In designing them they used not only their vast experience in the production of down sleeping bags, but we also carefully listened to the needs of users. All Excuistic bags are filled with 900 Fill Power best Polish goose down and made with the reliable, water resistant outer fabric PERTEX® Quantum Pro 36 g/m². The Excuistic 1500 has as many as 71 down chambers, and their arrangement in two layers minimises the risk of creating cold spots. The side panels, running along the length of the sleeping bag, further reduce the possibility of any migration of down and help to stabilise it where the risk of disturbing efficient insulation is the highest. The advanced design of the hood and of the foot box gives extra protection to the most vulnerable parts of the body. The hood is adjusted by elastic cords, and the long pullers on the sliders are easy to grab with thick gloves. The sleeping bag has two internal mesh pockets, thanks to which it is easier to manage the pockets’ contents. The wider cut makes it possible to sleep in large expedition clothing and also to keep several items in it that most need protection from the cold. Cumulus have applied all these solutions while bearing in mind the need to keep the weight of the sleeping bag as low as possible, so that it still weighs only 2,280 g, of which 1,500 g is down.

Cumulus Excuistic 1500 Features:

  • Fill: 900 Fill Power ethically sourced Polish goose down
  • Shell: PERTEX® Quantum Pro 36 g/m², 20-denier ripstop, DWR finish (100% Nylon)
  • Liner: PERTEX® Quantum 29 g/m², 15-denier ripstop, DWR finish (100% Nylon)
  • 120 cm, 5 mm YKK® zip with 2 self-locking sliders
  • Zip slider with anti-snag system
  • Independently filled top and bottom of the sleeping bag
  • 2 down-filled zip insulating tubes
  • Additional anti-snag tapes on zip insulating tubes
  • Mummy shape
  • Anatomically shaped hood with an advanced, 3D construction
  • Advanced foot area construction for better protection
  • Construction: Double H-shaped chamber design
  • Differencial cut design
  • Separately filled front and bottom
  • 2 inner pockets for small items
  • Can be opened and ventilated
  • Can be combined with other Excuistic sleeping bags
  • Hang loops for storage and drying
  • Stuffsack and storage sack included

Cumulus Excuistic 1500 Specifications:

  • Down quality: 900 FP
  • Total weight: 2,270 g
  • Down weight: 1,500 g
  • Weight of unfilled sleeping bag: 770 g
  • Comfort Temperature: -32 ℃
  • Limit Temperature: -46 ℃
  • Extreme Temperature: -70 ℃
  • Maximum user height: 192 cm
  • Length: 210 cm
  • Width (top/bottom): 87/60 cm
  • Stuff sack dimensions: 33/30 cm
  • Stuff sack volume: 23 l
  • Number of down chambers: 71

Don’t forget your BICO!

Hypothermia and cold injuries are amongst the main concerns when participating in any outdoor activity in winter. So, knowing how to avoid these dangerns is very important for all MYAU athletes. Unfortunately, we also know that – even with perfect preparation – participants can suffer from both, hypothermia and frostbite. In that case it’s important to know the warning signs, different stages there are and how to treat any injuries. This not just goes for self-analysis but also for a scenario where an athletes comes across a fellow competitor who is in trouble. When this happens, knowing how to help can safe someone’s life.

Therefore, I am very happy that the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” course exists. It’s an awareness and educational program about hypothermia and cold injuries developed for professional Search and Rescue Responders. It’s also great for anybody venturing out into nature during the cold time of the year.

So, as we have done it in the past, any athlete in the MYAU needs to do the BICO course. It’s online, it’s free of charge and it can be split up over several sessions if need be. At the end of the course the system issues a certificate. To all athletes, please email me your certificate once you have done the course. Personally, I suggest you do it just a couple of weeks before the race. That ways things will be fresh in your memory. If you already did the course earlier this year, I suggest you do it again. Unless you are 100% sure you still know the answers.

Coast Mountain Sports – Services for MYAU athletes

Once again Cost Mountain Sports will be available for MYAU athletes to fill their fuel bottles. If you are signed up for our 2022 race just come to Coast Mountain Sports between January 27th and February 2nd, bring your empty fuel bottles (max. 2) and they will fill these up for you. Athletes who rented a stove will get 2 empty fuel bottles with their stove kit. After the race you can bring unused fuel back to Coast Mountain Sports again.

Coast Mountain Sports will also offer you the service to reserve any gear that you would like to purchase with them. One item that is always in high demand are Neos Overshoes. Apart from that, they have of course pretty much anything you would need for an extreme cold weather adventure. For enquiries and purchases/reservations, please email Corina Zumer at czumer@tsgyukon.com.

As you may know already, the outdoor industry, like many other industries, is facing problems with stock and logistics. In other words, some products may not be available or only available in lower numbers than normal. Therefore, if you know what you want to buy locally, please email Corina as soon as possible. Due to the shortages Coast Mountain Sports will also ask for pre-payment. Once you email Corina, she will let you know how payment is done.

From Coast High Country Inn to Gold Rush Inn

After almost 20 years of having the Coast High Country Inn (HCI) as a partner hotel, this era will end in 2022. I do not know any details on the current project of turning the HCI into a supportive housing development. However, it’s a fact that now all existing athlete and MYAU bookings have been transferred over to the Best Western Gold Rush Inn. The good news is that both hotels belong to the same company and thus the transition has been smooth.

The MYAU would like to thank Nicole Horlbeck, General Manager at the HCI, and her entire team for the many years of outstanding service. A big thank you also to Northern Vision Development LP (owner of Yukon Hotels) for the continued support.

Meet our official MYAU 2022 photographer

Copyright: MarkKellyPhotography.ca

It can be quite challenging to participate in an extreme race like the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra and take photos at same time. So, we are all lucky to have someone who is willing to suffer for us, getting his fingers cold and driving his snowmobile to very remote places on the trail to capture some magic moments. Someone who shows us, the athletes and everyone back home just how tough, wild and magnificent the MYAU is. After 2019 and 2020 I am very happy to announce that once again Mark Kelly will be our official race photographer. You can have a look at his bio on www.depthoffield.ca. There you will also find great examples of Mark’s work.

For some inspiration, here are a few of Mark’s favourite photos from our last two MYAU editions: